U.S. President Barack Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos are working on a new and revised Plan Colombia – a controversial aid initiative that saw millions of U.S. dollars help militarize the country to fight the war on drugs and left-wing FARC guerrillas.
The announcement was made this week by Colombia's U.S. Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon and later confirmed by the White House, according to media reports Tuesday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had already announced in October that the two sides were discussing a revision of the military aid going to Colombia.
Presidents Obama and Santos are expected to announce a new and revised Plan Colombia by Feb. 4, to commemorate 15 years since the first deal was unveiled in 1999.
The initial plan was developed in 1998 between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Colombian President Andres Pastrana Arango. The deal was framed as a peace building project focused on ending the Colombian armed conflict and the cocaine trade in the country.
However, 15 years after its implementation, several studies have shown that Plan Colombia did not eliminate drug activities or violence in the country, but rather strengthen the Colombian army, often criticized for human rights abuses, and maintain the militarization of the country.
Funding from Plan Colombia was also believed to have trickled down to paramilitary forces, or right-wing death squads, who have committed major human rights abuses in the country over the years.
Pinzon told local media that once a peace deal is signed between the government and the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, – expected to happen March 23, 2016 – the U.S. government will continue to fund the South American country, focusing on the post-conflict situation.
“Plan Colombia will change according to the needs of the country and citizens. Narcotrafficking will remain a challenge. Part of the support of the United States will be against this crime,” said the ambassador.
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The Colombian government and the FARC have been undergoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba, since 2012 in attempts to bring an end to the over 50 years of armed conflict. After over three years of talks, the two sides have made some landmark agreements, and set a deadline of March 23, 2016 to sign a final peace deal.
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